Sunday, April 22, 2012

Manga Review: Kamisama Kiss, Volume 6, by Julietta Suzuki

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 12+

Goodreads Synopsis:

Every year, kami from all over Japan gather in Izumo for a sort of divine convention. One of Mikage's friends comes to the shrine to invite Nanami to the retreat, but it turns out most of the other kami and Tomoe don't want her to go. Can Nanami prove she's kami enough to attend . . . or does she even want to bother?

I kind of like this series. I want to like it. And I'm not actually disliking it, I don't think. I'm just... not all that into it right now. Which kind of sucks, since I want to. Right now, I think, I'm reading it and waiting to see it get better, to suck me in again, like it did at the beginning. Well, and for Tomoe. Always for Tomoe.
Anyway, most of this volume focuses on this kami gathering, which Nanami wants to be allowed to go to, and so starts competing with this other girl for the last spot. Tomoe doesn't think it's a good idea, but Otohiko wants to test them, while already having chosen Nanami. The other girl gets super competitive, and upset when she finds out it's rigged.
But before that, they're tested by having to take care of these eggs for three days, nurturing it, giving it their energy and all that. The girl, Kayako, starts getting hurt because of the egg taking so much from her, while Nanami ends up accidentally cracking hers, and getting a rather good little monkey-like pet (which is so freakin' cute!). (She's kind of just collecting people and creatures, isn't she? Like with Mizuki, too. A little weird, but I don't really mind.) She gets to name it according to what she wants it to be able to do, and learns how to care for it and use it, which is good. I'm hoping she'll actually start learning how to use her own abilities, since she hasn't done any of that yet, but whatever. This is a step in the right direction, right?
Anyway, they have to deal with this evil spirit at the school, and Kayako is having trouble because of this guy, but it all mostly works itself out by the end of the volume. This volume was alright. I'm not jittery with exciting, nor am I super excited for the next one, but I will get it at some point. And hope that the series gets better soon, and that Nanami gets better soon. And, mostly, that there are more chapters focused on Tomoe, and that have him butting heads with people, hopefully Kurama but Mizuki is good too. (Um, yea, those are kind of my favorite scenes.)

Manga Review: Oresama Teacher, Volume 5, by Izumi Tsubaki

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 13+

Goodreads Synopsis:

Mafuyu is looking forward to a relaxing day at the beach after all the recent commotion at school. But with Takaomi tagging along she should have known better than to expect calm and quiet. He plays rescuer to a couple getting harassed by delinquents and of course makes everything worse. Now Mafuyu has to save her vacation and her teacher!

I am enjoying this series, and am a little frustrated that I am so far behind because I never get to the bookstore and they never seem to have the volumes or series that I want. Um, anyway... This volume was good.
It starts off pretty much where the last one ended, with Mafuyu (the main character) and Saeki (her teacher) at the beach, hanging out or whatever. Mafuyu is helping Saeki out on something, and they end up, rather hilariously, trying to pretend to be a couple. Then they save these two people from some gang members, and going with those two people, who turn out to be servants at this mansion place, and then helping out the rich girl who lives there (who forms a kinship with Saeki, because of their similar personalities) and her servants for a couple of chapters. It was all fun and cute, and very funny, and it's been too long since I read it. (Augh, I've been putting off a couple of my manga reviews for far too long, and now the books are a little too blurry in my mind and my excitement for them has lessened way too much.)
Then there is a chapter about Okegawa (the bancho), who saves some flowers and starts being followed by flowers and wants a close friend, and he hangs out with Mafuyu and Hayasaka. Mafuyu finds out that her fellow masochistic friend was the mysterious person in town in the previous volume (I believe?), while Hayasaka and Okegawa stay oblivious to the fact that he was looking for her. And Mafuyu and Okegawa are still oblivious to the fact that they have been sending letters to each other; which I am looking forward to them finding/am hoping they find out soon.
In the (kind of) last chapter, Mafuyu and Hayasaka get, um, warning letters from, I believe, the student council, and one of their members (or someone from that club they are unknowingly competing against?) starts following them, in a rather ninja like style. Mafuyu, and even Saeki, become aware of it and are suspicious, but Hayasaka is oblivious.
And then there are, maybe, twenty pages of strip-comics, mostly featuring the gang from Mafuyu's old school and the gang they competed against (I think?). This wasn't as funny as I was hoping, since I didn't know (or remember?) some of the characters, but once I got used to them, it was. And I liked seeing her second and third from her old gang, as they are so much fun to watch.
This was a good volume (this is a good series), and I want to read the next one. They're usually really funny and I'm enjoying reading about the characters, and hoping that they'll stick in my head better soon (since sometimes after I read a volume, the characters and what happened, is just gone from my memory, and I have to do a somewhat thorough skim of the book in order to remember). I'm really hoping to get the next one soon. But, we'll see.

In My Mailbox!: #1

This is a weekly meme host by The Story Siren.

I haven't done one of these before, mostly because I don't get a whole lot of books in the mail all that often. (I mostly have a whole bunch of books that have piled up over the years, and lately I only get new ones when I can finally get to a good bookstore, since the closest one is an hour away [and only because Borders closed. *sobs*].) Anyway! Here are the few newest ones I've gotten over the last week or two, I think.





  •  Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth (I'm reading this in book club, and I've heard it's really good, so I'm a bit excited to start it).
  • The Unseen 2 (Contains Blood Brothers and Sin and Salvation) by Richie Tankersley Cusick (I really enjoyed the first one, and am hoping this one is just as good, or hopefully better). 

Review: And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky

Rating (Out of 5): ~4 (Maybe 4.5)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse/Simon Teen/Pulse It [Whatever])
Spoilers?: Minor.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Keek’s life was totally perfect.

Keek and her boyfriend just had their Worst Fight Ever, her best friend heinously betrayed her, her parents are divorcing, and her mom’s across the country caring for her newborn cousin, who may or may not make it home from the hospital. To top it all off, Keek’s got the plague. (Well, the chicken pox.) Now she’s holed up at her grandmother’s technologically-barren house until further notice. Not quite the summer vacation Keek had in mind.
With only an old typewriter and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for solace and guidance, Keek’s alone with her swirling thoughts. But one thing’s clear through her feverish haze—she’s got to figure out why things went wrong so she can put them right.

I was expecting this to be good, and it was. I usually end up enjoying letter or journal style books, especially when it's about a person that might be rambling and thinking a lot throughout the book, and when I found out that's what this book is, I wasn't disappointed.
The book is about Keek, who has chicken pox and is staying with her Grandmother, while her parents are divorcing and she's trying to deal with her fight with her boyfriend Matt, and so is re-reading The Bell Jar, her favorite book, (which I've never read, and so have no idea what the actual similarities are between this book and that one) and typing up her feelings on an old typewriter.
So, I did like Keek. I really got to know her in this book, and agreed with her on several things. I enjoyed her thoughts on everything, and her musings on it all while being sick, and I felt a little bad for her at some points. One of my favorite musings of hers, I think, would have to be what she thought of virginity. I won't say much more, but I really enjoyed that. (Oh, also, sofa king. That is the most amazing thing, ever, and I love it, and am so glad I read this book, just for that. I mean, I'm glad I read the book for everything else, too, but that? Icing on the cake, or whatever. And if you don't understand those two words, say them together, aloud, very fast. Isn't that awesome?)
I enjoyed living through everything with Matt and her parents and her friends, and just everyone else around her. Her parents took a bit of a turnaround, and they both kind of suck, but it seems like her dad, surprisingly, it getting higher on the scale than her mother is (because what her mother did, completely sucks; I mean, what he did sucks too, but it's more impractical and hateful what she did. It's like she took business and pleasure and mixed them together, and she shouldn't have done that. Not that what he did wasn't wrong, though, because it was). And Matt? There were some really nice, steamy scenes with him, which I enjoyed. And some of the time I liked him. But, honestly, he's kind of a douche (again, I don't like that word, but sometimes it just kind of fits, okay?). And I don't think he's getting all that better at the end of the book. I feel like he should be, but that's not how things turned out. Her friends, on the other hand, were, and so that was nice at least. Well, I guess Keek is, too, which is good.
The ending left a little to be desired, something a bit bigger and more definite. But that's alright.
Aside from some of those things, the book was really good. I liked being in Keek's head, and I liked how her journals were; they were very fun. The book was fun, and very easy to get through, and I was a little surprised by how attached I got to it, what with not wanting to put it down. I am definitely looking forward to Tibensky publishing more books in the future.

Review: Die for Me (Revenants, #1) by Amy Plum

Rating (Out of 5): ~4 (Maybe 3.5)
Publisher: HarperCollins (HarperTeen) [Maybe also Little, Brown/Atom?]
Spoilers?: Some, minor-ish

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the City of Lights, two star-crossed lovers battle a fate that is destined to tear them apart again and again for eternity.

When Kate Mercier's parents die in a tragic car accident, she leaves her life--and memories--behind to live with her grandparents in Paris. For Kate, the only way to survive her pain is escaping into the world of books and Parisian art. Until she meets Vincent.

Mysterious, charming, and devastatingly handsome, Vincent threatens to melt the ice around Kate's guarded heart with just his smile. As she begins to fall in love with Vincent, Kate discovers that he's a revenant--an undead being whose fate forces him to sacrifice himself over and over again to save the lives of others. Vincent and those like him are bound in a centuries-old war against a group of evil revenants who exist only to murder and betray. Kate soon realizes that if she follows her heart, she may never be safe again.


I'd heard that this book was really good a while ago, but then I read an interview-thing with the characters around Valentine's, which got me really interested, and is what made me finally go get it. And it didn't take me too long to get into it, either, which is a little surprising (since I tend to put books off for way too long). And I totally agree with all the hype, because it was really good.
The Revenants series is about Kate, who's parents have recently died and so she and her older sister move to Paris to live with their Grandparents. It's been a few months, but she's still depressed about their deaths, and a little close to nightmares because of how it happened. And then she meets Vincent, seeing that she's caught his eye and he catches hers, and she's opened to the world of otherworldly creatures.
I liked Kate. She's smart and likes reading (and is actually seen with a book several times throughout the book, as well as going to bookstores, and going to cafes and reads just to say she's been out of the house) and goes to museums for fun. She's actually showing that she likes these things, instead of telling us them (which happens way too often). And she's also has an actual reason for not wanting to get close to Vincent; her parents, who she was close to and has fond memories of, died and she hasn't gotten over it yet, and it's even left her a little scarred because of how they died (which I don't believe is fully explained; or was it just a really bloody car accident? Either way, it was bad and left her with terrible images). I felt that, at times, it felt a little off with how much she didn't want to be close to Vincent, but she did have legitimate reasons.
I liked Vincent, too. He was genuine and cared for her, and wanted to try something different to stay close to her, and he was sweet. They did start having feelings for each other upon first noticing each other, but Kate was wary at first, and they did go on an actual date (had a couple date-like outings, even) before much else happened. Kate even turns him down at one point! I don't think I've ever seen that before, not when there was so much obvious attraction, and when neither of them was denying their feelings all that well. I mean, Kate was trying to take things slow, but she didn't avoid the fact that he liked her or that she was liking him back, all that much. Oh, and they both have some previous experience. Vincent's been in maybe love before, and Kate has had some little flings before. Which is pretty awesome, since usually at least one person has had no prior experience.
A lot of the book showed Kate and Vincent getting closer, and just hanging out and finding things out about each other, which was nice. If you didn't like the characters, then maybe not so much, but I did, and so it was nice to see them just talking and doing things together. Usually, in these types of books, it just jumps into stuff and sometimes skips showing the reader that the characters actually like each other and spend time together and can joke around with each other, so it was nice to see that.
When it did get to the more exciting parts, which were near the end of the book (well, mostly), it was also rather exciting. I was afraid at one point that Kate was going to pull a, um, Bella (maybe?), and go to the danger, but [Spoiler?] instead it came to her, and she dealt with it rather well, which was nice. She didn't suddenly become amazing, and someone else didn't come and show up at the very last moment. Well, someone kind of did, but with a kind of plausible reason. Kind of. But that's alright.
The reverants were really interesting. They kind of live forever, as they die when they take someone else's place in death, only to come back alive several days later, at the age they originally died at. They age like normal people, only every time they die they go back to step one (meaning the age they first died at). (Sorry if that was a little confusing. Just go read the book!) There are a handful of them with Vincent, and they were all pretty cool, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better. As well as getting to see how things work with what Vincent is planning to do to stay with Kate.
I'm kind of unsure of Kate's sister. She knows stuff, even though she shouldn't, and I guess that's nice for Kate. But I'm hoping that does good and not bad in the next book. And I'm hoping we'll get to see more of Charlotte and Charles (right?) in the next book, or some time soon.
Also: Paris. I'm not always all that interested in the scenery in books, but it was really well done in this one. So much so that it made me want to see the things she was seeing, that Vincent was showing her. It all sounded so very pretty and mesmerizing; and it was kind of nice that the Eiffel Tower was only mentioned, I think, once. Usually that's the main thing people talk about, about Paris, and it wasn't here. And I was glad that Kate didn't mind living in Paris, and moving away, like most characters are. She'd been there before, was (relatively) happy to be with her Grandparents, and mostly focused her sadness on that she couldn't go back to her parents.
So, I enjoyed this book, a lot, and I'm glad. The next one is out next month, I believe, and so I'm excited to read it, for whenever I decide to get it.

Review: Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John

 Rating (Out of 5): ~4 (Maybe 4.5)
Publisher: Penguin (Dial)
Spoilers?: Minor, Plus one forewarned

Goodreads Synopsis:

When sixteen-year-old Luke's book, Hallelujah, becomes a national bestseller, his publishing house sends him on a cross-country book tour with his older brother, Matt, as chauffeur. But when irresponsible Matt offers to drive Luke's ex–soul mate, Fran, across the country too, things get a little crazy. On the trip, Luke must loosen up, discover what it truly means to have faith, and do what it takes to get the girl he loves.

Told with Antony John's signature wit and authenticity, and featuring smart, singular characters who jump off the page and into your heart, this story is a spiritual awakening and rockin' road trip in one.


I was hoping, even expecting, to really like this, especially because of how much I enjoyed John's second book, but then I was nervous when I found out that it was religious (which I didn't find out until I read another review, since I completely ignored the title. I was just like, Antony John['s new book]? WANT, and pre-ordered). (Which might not be surprising, if you've read this one review of mine...) I'm not too big on religion, so I was wary, and then I was surprised by how easily I got sucked into the book. Now, after reading it, I'm glad with how much I liked it, and am debating on its rating...
Thou Shalt Not Road Trip is about Luke, a boy who has written and published a book while still in high school, a book that he now, about a year later, feels very disconnected to. The book takes place when Luke goes on the tour for his book, a little over a week, with his brother Matt, his brother's girlfriend Alex, and Luke's old best friend and crush Fran. And during it all, he's kind of trying to find himself and deal with what happened around the time he wrote the book and after it got published.
So, I liked Luke. Mostly. Kind of. Well, he's sweet and I want to give him a hug, but at the same time, he's kind of self-centered and closed-minded and oblivious and I just want to shake him. But he's trying to get over those things, and he's getting better by the end of the book, so I feel that things are looking up for him, and I'm glad. 'cause even when he bothered me, (and probably because of how well-written he was,) I enjoyed being in his head.
We get to know Matt pretty well, and I wasn't a big fan of his. He's kind of a... um, jerk (douche, I feel, is a better word, but I don't like that word, and so am refraining from using it). But maybe he's getting better by the end? He did realize what he did wrong, and was doing some things to make it better, so... maybe, yea?. I don't feel I got to know Alex too well, but maybe she was okay? I did like Fran. I rather liked her a lot, and felt bad for what she was going through and went through and just wanted to be her friend through it all, when everyone else couldn't, and was wondering what she was thinking through all of it.
The road trip was fun. I haven't been to the places he went (at least, that I remember), and so it was fun to experience them with him. And it felt like more time should have gone by, instead of only a little over a week, but each day went by very smoothly; I was a little surprised with how well-done the pace was (which might be because it wasn't a love-at-first-sight story, since they all knew each other previously).
And now the religion part. Luke wrote a religious book, because he's a religious person, and goes to church and all that, but he's still very much a lost teenage boy (not that, ah, he wouldn't be a teenage boy just because he goes to church or anything; I swear, that is not what I am saying. [Maybe that his religion has not taken over his life?] More that, he still has teenage boy thoughts relating to girls; and also, that he gets embarrassed very easily by them, which is very cute and not bad in any way [this was a religious book with some really good romance, which I am very happy about]). And everything he thought about his religion, was very much of his own thoughts, and felt like they had nothing to do with the authors feelings about it all. It wasn't overbearing, and I didn't mind reading the religious parts, at all. Which was nice.
Also I liked the little excerpts of Luke's book, they were nice. And I found it interesting how disconnected he feels from the book, after all the editing and re-thinking, especially since it started as a journal style thing from youth group (or was it that summer camp thing? One of those things, I think?) only written in Bible format. I liked how he felt so different from when he wrote it, and his first interview was a complete blur in his mind, so he was surprised when everyone loved it so much and took it to be completely true and had such big reactions. I liked seeing how surprised he was when people came up to him, and with how many people came to his signings, and how upset they became later. It was really interesting and really well done.
The ending, I'm not so happy with. Mostly because of how things ended with Fran and Luke, but I don't want to spoil it, and so I won't say too much, but I'm not all that happy with it. I was hoping for something more, and while what happened isn't particularly bad, I was hoping for something different. Am a little disappointed, even though I feel that it is good for the characters, and isn't an overall bad thing. But, I guess, I can just imagine that things change later, progress more in the direction I want, or was hoping for? ([Possible Spoiler!] for Fran, to where she is more secure in him, perhaps?)
Aside from that, the book was really interesting and well done, and it kept me (a little surprisingly) interested throughout the whole thing, to where I didn't want to put it down, even as I had other things I wanted (or needed) to focus on, and even while I was trying to savor the experience. It was really good, and I'm really glad, and I'm super excited for his next book to be released (which, you guys, should only be later this year!).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review: The After Life by Daniel Ehrenhaft

Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Penguin (Razorbill)
Spoilers?: No/Minor

Goodreads Synopsis:

 Nineteen-year-old Will Shepherd has never met his father, even though they live on opposite ends of Manhattan. Suddenly, within twenty-four hours, Will meets his father and his two halfsiblings, Kyle and Liz, and then his father dies out of the blue.
A clause in the will requires Will to drive back to New York from the funeral in Florida with self-absorbed Kyle and gorgeous, vulnerable Liz, leading to a road trip filled with tensions, escalating risks, and deep revelations.
In the tradition of Brett Easton Ellis and Hunter S. Thompson, Daniel Ehrenhaft crafts a novel of excess, a coming-of-age story with grit and edge that ultimately offers redemption to three characters in desperate need.

This book... This book was just, so... I was hoping for something different from this book, and what I got was not what I wanted or hoped for, in a bad way.
It's about three people: Will, Liz, and Kyle Shepherd, who are separated siblings, and who meet just before their father dies, and then go on a small road trip home from the funeral, somewhat at the request from their fathers will.
I did not like Will very much. He's nineteen, and yet is a bit of a drunk; is a drunk, which I did not like. And he was rather crude in the way that he spoke. He's just not someone that I would hang out with, given the choice. I didn't really like Kyle, either. He was too selfish, conceited, thinking that he deserved some respect and to be 'the Man' even though he really didn't deserve it. Liz, either, for that matter. I didn't mind her at first, and I probably liked her most, but I still wasn't a big fan. I don't think I would hang out with any of them, actually, given the choice.
There was a bit of the book where Liz and Will feel attracted to each other, and try to ignore it because they are siblings, which also bothered me. They're only half-related, and I've read some other things like this that didn't bother me as much, but I just didn't like it in this book. Plus, at the end, where there's given an excuse to this problem, just seemed a little too much like a cop-out. I guess it should make it better, and in a way it does, but it still bothered me.
I was hoping for better characters; characters that I would get along with and feel more connected to. But instead I just found that I didn't really connect with any of them. A big part of that might be the alcohol and drugs thing. I just don't really like alcohol or drugs. It's not that I overall disapprove of it and think that people shouldn't do them and don't want to believe that people do them. I just don't like how people try to use them to hide from other things, or are generally dumb when they decide to do them. And Will was always drinking to make himself feel better, despite the fact that he would have a terrible hangover when he woke up, and I don't see the appeal in that. And there was some other drug use within the book, which didn't make any of it better.
I just don't like it, okay? And I wasn't expecting it, and hope that it hadn't been in there. I think I wanted this book to be different, and was expecting it to be different, and was a bit disappointed when I found out that it wasn't what I thought it would be. The ending brought the rating up just a little bit, but it didn't help too much.
Anyway, despite not really enjoying this book, I have read some other books by Ehrenhaft that I did enjoy, and so am still planning on reading another of his books, and hope that I enjoy it more than this one.

Review: Take Me There by Carolee Dean

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse)
Spoilers?: Minor

Goodreads Synopsis:

Dylan has a bad-boy past and a criminal record. Trouble follows Dylan wherever he goes, and a deadly mistake soon forces him to hit the road and leave his dreams behind. He's on the run and in search of answers--answers to questions he wishes he'd never asked.


This was so good. I'm rather surprised by how much deeper, darker, and more serious it was than I thought it would be. I thought it would be like Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series, maybe a little like Lauren Barnholt's Two-Way Street, (both of which I loved,) with a lot of romance and a bad boy that has gotten in a lot of trouble, maybe some family problems, and a happy ending. But instead it turned out to be more like the TV show Hidden Palms, a little like Veronica Mars, (both of which I also loved) as in, a teenage mystery drama on television. And, what with how much I enjoy those types of shows (go ahead and recommend some in the comments!), I'm not surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.
The book is about Dylan, who has gotten into some trouble with the law, has already been in juvie and is now on probation, when his close friend Wade drags him into some more trouble, and forces them on the run. Dylan's father, D.J., is on death row after eleven years of being in prison, and Dylan wants some answers before he's killed or Dylan is caught. Some answers that might just be darker and harder to handle than he thought. Plus, there's a girl back home, Jess, that he loves and that loves him.
So, Dylan. I didn't fall in love with Dylan, but I did understand what he was doing and his motivation behind all of it. And I loved his poems and how he can't write, it just added to his character, and definitely added some sympathy and love for him. (But with his reading, it made me wonder if he's dyslexic? Or no? I wanted him to talk to someone about it, get help with it, but I understood why he didn't want to, and was glad that he was getting better through the book.) At one point, it would have been nice for him to have caught on to what happened a little earlier, but I understand that he didn't want to. He wanted things to have a better solution, for things to work out better than they did. I did like that he was trying to stay clean, get away from everything gang-related or to do with alcohol and drugs. That was nice to see.
Some of his relationship with Jess I didn't totally buy. I got why he liked her, what with her catching his interest and wanting to help her and have her help him, with all of his dark things while she seemed a good, nice girl with some family problems. But I didn't really buy how easily it was for her to love him. She should have, yea, but it happened too fast, I think. Didn't give enough reason or time for her to come to the conclusion that she needed him.
And Wade. I'm upset about him. He had the potential to turn into the boy that you feel sorry for because of his family, that is adorable, who you just want to hug to make it all better. But instead that part was weak, and he turned into one of those dumb teenage boys who just want something good and so hook onto anything they can. How he sticks to Dylan, and wants to be a part of the gang because he thinks that's the smart way to get protection. And then with what he did with Dorie. That was just stupid, and I don't see how anything good can come of it. I'm a little disappointed by how much I came to dislike him.
Everything that happened with Dylan's father and mother and uncle and the whole murder thing... it was all messy and sad and I'm unhappy with it all. And I liked D.J. and am so unhappy with how that turned out. (I don't want to spoil it; does that spoil it?) Plus, at the end, what happens with Dylan? I feel like it's all just starting all over, Dylan is going down the same path, and it's not going to be good. But, with what Dylan said, I guess it is possible for something good, that he could get out or that it won't happen to a later generation? But maybe it will with Wade? Ahhh, I want to know! I'm dying with curiousity over here, with questions that I want answers, with speculation. Again, I want to know!
The story line and pace was done really well. Again, like with a teenager-y mystery drama show, it kept giving clues to what happened and who did it and pieces of his past without telling all of it at once, making you wonder, keeping you connected to the book as you found more out and guessed. It was really good. And throughout all of the book, you're inside Dylan's head, and I liked that, plus you got to read some poems by him that were nice, as well as snippets of D.J.'s book, which were very interesting and made me like D.J. even more.
I'm still so upset about the ending and D.J. and Dylan and everyone. I'm reeling, upset, and frustrated over this book. But that shows how good it was, right? Because I feel so much about it. Either way, it was good, really good. And I would love there to be a sequel, but I don't think there's going to be one.

Manga Review: Make Love & Peace by Takane Yonetani

Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Aurora (Luv Luv)
Volumes: 1 (One-Shot, plus sequel)

Amazon Summary:

All they want is some peace... what they get is some hot and spicy love!

College student Ayame's boyfriend is the handsome police detective Koichi. After what seemed like a destined meeting, Ayame and Koichi are a couple who want nothing but a lovey-dovey relationship with plenty of hot sex to spice it up. However, having a police detective for a boyfriend naturally implies that constant troubles won't be far behind. Between battling injustices in society and indulging in sexual passions in bed, there is never a dull moment in their relationship. Though wanting some peaceful time together is unpredictable, can you really complain when you have to settle for hot and spicy sex?!

Unlike my last review of a Luv Luv manga, I actually enjoyed this one. It wasn't as amazing as I'd hoped, but it was much better than the last few I've read.
It's about Ayame, who's boyfriend is a police officer. They've gotten pretty intimate and close rather fast in their relationship, as she's already thinking about marriage only two months together. She worries about him getting hurt while working, and is bothered some by his constantly getting called in to work, but tries not to complain.
In most of the chapters, they're dealing with police-type problems, as well as relationship ones. Also, there is smut in most of them. (Skip the rest of this paragraph if you are not interested in the smut.) Some of this seemed rather repetitive, what with him always taking charge of it, and always licking her. It bothered me a little that she never took any initiative, or returned the favor of licking him. It just seemed to exemplify that she wasn't a particularly strong character, and that bothered me. And it would have been preferable to have to variety. Also, some of it seemed a little more... dirty, or explicit than the other ones I've seen. (Which isn't particularly bad, but was just weird to see.)
Most of the chapter-plots were alright. They weren't particularly bothersome. I think most of what bothered me would have to do with the characters. When Ayame tried to make a rapist look on the bright side, for example, and he acts all big only to look regretful as he leaves. (Another part of the rapist scene that bothered me, was when Ayame was going to jump out the window and the people protested, but then Koichi just appears outside it, when it's three stories high. Um, what? Oh! And when she holds out her phone and his face appears on the screen, because apparently she has a phone where she can chat like that, when they weren't before? I feel that that was just weird.) And when they're taking care of a mother, how absurd it seemed for her to just leave her baby because she's depressed, and how sure she is that she can't take care of it, only for her to change her mind when her husband gets there. But it also bothered me how much she was blaming that her husband was always gone and she was lonely and how of course she couldn't take care of her kid without him. She should have just dealt with it and tried on her own.
Oh, also, how fast Ayame and Koichi were moving. It seemed way too fast for them to be thinking love only two months in, and then to talk marriage only after six months. But maybe that's only me, since I feel that there should be years before you think about that stuff seriously? Aside from that, though, I do think they actually had something between them. Some chemistry or whatever. They seemed to get along rather well, joked around and seemed happy together. Although, a lot of what they do together is sex. Still, their chemistry together didn't bother me.
The artwork was also pretty good. Again, it wasn't amazing. But it was good, pretty consistently so throughout the whole book, and better than some of the other ones I've read recently, which is nice. Out of the three, this one was a little weak in story, or characters, and pace, I think. Not too bad, I guess.
I believe there is a sequel to this one that was published by Luv Luv as well? Or was maybe, almost published as well? I'm not too sure, but I'm thinking it might be harder to find than this one was, which will kind of suck, since I actually kind of liked this one and would like to read the next one.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: The Unseen (I [It Begins] and II [Rest In Peace]) by Richie Tankersley Cusick

This is an omnibus of The Unseen, books 1 (It Begins) and 2 (Rest In Peace), by Richie Tankersley Cusick
Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Penguin (Speak)
Spoilers?: Vaguely

Goodreads Synopsis:

 Out walking alone one rainy night, Lucy becomes convinced that someone - or something - is following her. Spooked, she ducks into a cemetery to try and lose her stalker. Panicking in the darkness, she slips and stumbles into an open grave - only to discover she is not alone in there. She manages to escape, but soon begins having terrifying visions and dreams - and she still can't shake the feeling of an unseen presence, always watching, waiting... Who was the girl in the grave? And what did she do to Lucy?


The description of this book is pretty vague, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it. Was it supernatural, suspense, mystery; was there any romance? But a friend suggested it to me, which didn't really make me all that less wary, but I thought that there had to be a reason she liked it, and so I started it with hope. And was very pleasantly surprised to find that I was really enjoying it.
The Unseen is about Lucy, who's mother has died and so moves in with her un-emotional aunt and troublesome cousin (her aunt's step-daughter), in a town where she doesn't know anyone and feels all alone. On one of her first days in town, she decides to take a walk, just to get out of the house, and, upon feeling that someone is following her, runs into the cemetery and falls into an open grave. Where a girl is dying/has died, who then says a few things to Lucy and passes her psychic powers onto. The next day, what is supposed to be Lucy's first day at her new school, she sneaks back to the library and runs into a boy, Byron, who claims to know what happened with Lucy and the things she is going through/is going to go through.
Throughout the first book, she gets closer to Byron, without any actual romantic things happening, and tries to pretend that things happening to her are coincidences/have perfectly logical reasons for happening/don't exist. In the second book, pretty much the same things happen, only with some new people and with Lucy starting to believe that she is crazy/it's all because of the accident (that she went through at the end of the first book and very beginning of the second, which I will not spoil, but was very intense and sad and with an unexpected end) because everyone around her doesn't believe her. With another cliffhanger ending, that makes me want to pick up the next book much sooner than I'd expected.
It starts out with a prologue in the Villain guy's perspective, thinking about a girl that pulled one over on him. I thought that he was maybe talking about Lucy, and am a bit disappointed that he wasn't, mostly because his description and feelings on that girl could have been better than Lucy. She seemed much more devious than Lucy is, and it kind of makes me wish I'd gotten to know her, too. Maybe/hopefully Lucy will turn a little like her, though? (More on her later, though.) Then it moves to chapter one, where it starts rather abruptly with Lucy running away from something. I think that maybe could have started a little more smoothly? It felt too sudden.
Despite the somewhat bad start, my favorite part of these two books were quite possibly the Villain's scenes. We don't know his name, we don't really know what he is. But he's always following her, he lives in the shadows, I think he actually is the shadows, but can materialize and look however he wants, and he kills people and drinks blood and feeds off emotions (particularly fear). There are several short chapters in both books, including the prologues, that are in his point-of-view, where he is thinking about Lucy, maybe killing someone (much like the Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting,'s villain scenes, only better and with more character). At the beginning, I'd thought that maybe he was going to be the love interest, but then his chapter, and his next one, quickly became creepy and it was made obvious that he was the one following her. But then near the end of the second book, we start getting more of his feelings on things, which made me want to know more about him and what his past life was, as I'm assuming he had one, and if something is going to happen between him and Lucy besides him and her fighting it all out to the end, and maybe even feel a little sympathy for him.
Lucy, on the other hand, isn't my favorite. I wouldn't call her weak, but she is in no way strong. She's not quite whiny, but I was starting to grow tired of how she was always trying to push everything away. She wanted to believe that what she saw in the cemetery wasn't real, or it was a trick; that all the psychic things she'd been feeling weren't real; that maybe she was crazy and hallucinating all of it. It was starting to drive me a little crazy, and so I was glad to see at the end that she was going to accept it, even if it was a little more tell than show. I'm still a little unsure of her, though. She's almost whiny with her emotions, but I think some of it might just be because I don't really connect with her. Some of the things about her, I just don't really buy.
She has reasons for the things she does, though. Because of what happened with her mother, and probably how her aunt and cousin act, she has a wall built around herself. But I didn't really believe that, either. She's a little too gullible, even while trying to be wary. She goes to meet Byron, and starts trusting Dakota rather easily. At some points in the second book, it seemed like when she would first start to talk to someone, she would snap at them, which she had reason to do, only almost immediately after, she would be apologetic. I would have rather she chose one and stuck with it. And I would prefer it be the wary one. She needs to toughen up, and hopefully in the next book she will.
I haven't grown too attached to any of the other characters yet. Although I am surprised by where the love interest went, since I definitely wasn't expecting it, even if it did give us fair warning (which I ignored, thinking that he didn't count). A part of me is, yea, a bit upset since I like romance in most books, but I am enjoying the book without it just fine. And I did kind of like the guy, too, so that sucks a bit. I also liked that they didn't jump into love, or actual romance of any kind before what happened, happened. They were just starting to grow as friends when it happened. Plus, it seemed at first like it was going to start going down a stereotypical lane, what with all the girls fawning over him and his secretive ways just a bit, so I am glad that it took a different curve instead.
The writing I wasn't particularly fond of, either. It was easy to get through, actually rather easy and fun to read, but Cusick uses a lot of italics and ellipses and one-sentence paragraphs for emphasis. I can see why, and, I mean, I like using them when I write, too, but she uses them much too often. There were sometimes several on each page, so she should have cut them down a little, as I could see it getting on some peoples nerves very easily, since it was almost on mine.
Aside from that, though, the writing was pretty good. A little more tell than show in some places, but there were still some pretty good descriptions in there. And the tension and suspense was very good. There were very few, if any, dull moments throughout either books. Lucy was always off doing something, with the villain (or whatever) creeping up on her, ruining everything and causing a lot of trouble, and freaking Lucy out, and her just finding out important things. There were several times within the books that Lucy would go to sleep/pass out and have a lapse of memory upon waking up, which sometimes is okay, but happened so many times that it was starting to get annoying; and she's almost always going through these things alone. I guess this could be because no one will believe her and that the way the Villain wants her to be, but it bothered me. Also, within the first book, it seemed like time should have gone by faster, because of all the things that seemed to be happening, though.
Both books had quite big cliffhangers, and I'm a little surprised by how badly I want to read the next one (as I said above). I want to see where everything is going, what's going to happen next. I really want to know what's going to happen with the Villain, as well as hoping that I like Lucy more. And I want to know more about the guy we met at the cliffhanger. And I want to know what Matt's (a priest, who is counseling Lucy, but who I am getting a somewhat romantic and creepy feeling from, like maybe he has connections with/is the Villain) up to.
I'm hoping to get the next one soon, and to finish it quickly; but we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: Watch Me (Previously known as Reality Chick) by Lauren Barnholdt

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse)
Spoilers?: Minor

Goodreads Synopsis:

 She thinks she has nothing to hide…

Ally has everything under control. She’s about to move into a house full of strangers and have her life broadcast to the world, but as long as she still has her long-distance boyfriend, Corey, nothing can go wrong. Nothing, that is, until Ally starts spending time with her housemate Drew, the hot and sensitive guy who always seems to be around when she needs someone the most.

As suspicions and lies start pulling Ally and Corey apart, she’s not sure if she can trust anyone, not even herself. Ally is about to learn the hard way that life is what happens when everyone is looking, and it doesn’t always capture her good side….

I've read two other books by Barnholdt, and enjoyed one more than the other. And still enjoy that one over this one. (It was Two-Way Street, and am I excited for the companion novel? Yes!) This one wasn't bad, though. It was probably better than the second one I read, but not amazing.
Watch Me is about Ally, who is starring in a reality show with other college freshmen. She has a boyfriend of two years, who is going to a different college in another state, but believes they'll stay together. She starts growing closer with her roommates, two of which are girls, and one of the two boys, while growing a little distant from her boyfriend. And, of course, learning to deal with a camera always following her around and not knowing what is going to be shown on television, while also trying to make other friends.
Ally was alright. She wasn't dumb, but was a little naïve, and not one of my favorite characters. I did like her gay best friend, Grant, and I liked her girl roommates. I also liked Drew, the nice boy roommate, and thought things moved along nicely between them, especially with how things were at the end. The ending of the book was good, though, what with none of them jumping into anything, just taking it all slowly.
Her boyfriend, Corey, I think could have been nicer. He started becoming a bit of a jerk, and I don't think the cheating thing was really expanded upon as much as it could have been. But maybe that was because, at that point, it just wasn't as important to her anymore as everything else? And James, her other boy roommate. He was a jerk, and I was thinking that we would see some actual likable things about him, but we didn't. Which is alright, I guess.
I like how Barnholdt wrote out with the Then and Now parts, but feel that I would have liked having multiple points-of-view. With only being in Ally's head, it made it seem like the whole show was about her, but there were several other people cameras on them, and I would have liked to know what they were doing and taking things.
I liked seeing what Ally thought in the present, as opposed to during the filming, but it made everything seem worse than it was. For certain points, like when she was being dramatic, it was nice, but other times only made it seem more ominous than was needed. The beginning, for instance, made it seem like some big tragic thing was going to happen, but it didn't. There was some drama, but not as much as it made it seem like there would be.
And, while I do like Barnholdt's writing, which makes her books easy to get through and interesting, it's a little repetitive. She used phrases/words like 'I mean' and 'sketch' several times, which bothered me a bit. And she uses a bit of stereotypes in her stories, what with being popular and not and making that into a big deal with her characters and the people around them. She uses it in a couple of her books, not just this one, which bothers me a bit.
I did enjoy the book, though. It wasn't amazing, but it was good, and I am planning on reading her other books.

Review: Swimming Without A Net (Fred the Mermaid, #2) by MaryJanice Davidson

Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5 (Maybe 4)
Publisher: Penguin (Jove Books)
Spoilers?: Some; for first book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

As Fred the Mermaid tries to fit in with her own kind, she finds herself hooked on both Artur, the High Prince of the undersea realm, and Thomas, a hunky marine biologist. She's also caught between two factions of merfolk: those happy with swimming under the radar-and those who want to bring their existence to the surface.


I am really enjoying this series. I like Davidson's writing, which makes it really easy to get through each book. And I like the characters, which also helps. And now I really want the next one, since it's the last and I want to know how it ends.
In this one, Fred goes to the Cayman Islands for a mermaid meet up thing because some mermaid want the world to know about them while others do not, bringing Jonas with her. She doesn't want to, but is kind of forced into it. While there, she gets closer to Artur, but Thomas is also there, since Artur didn't want it to be unfair for only him to be with her as Thomas is also working to get in her favors (which is awesome of him). She also finds out that her father tried to take the thrown from Artur's father, and has thus been banished and made a traitor, and everyone is avoiding Fred because of it.
I still like Jonas, but am not feeling as good about his relationship with Dr. Barb. I feel that they're moving a bit too fast. There's mention of Fred doing something about the girl that her parents are taking care of, maybe adopting,'s father, which I am especially hoping to see in the next book. I also liked the mermaids that we met. Artur's father was cool, and especially entertaining because of how he thinks surface dwellers talk. Tennian was very interesting, and I liked her.
I like the conclusion that the mermaids come to about coming out of the closet (even if it was done maybe not as well as it could have been, with how sudden Fred came to the idea and the King deciding to go with it), and I liked Fred's feelings on the matter, and totally agreed with her. I am excited to see what happens with it in the next book. Also, with her father. Since they're not really sure that he's dead, and I believe that he's going to show up in the next one. That is sure to be interesting.
The big thing that happened, though, was with Fred's love life. Thomas made kind of a dick move, what with getting feelings for someone else, which proved that he was more fascinated with Fred's being a mermaid than Fred herself. But I do like Artur, and am excited to see what happens with them next, since she decided to go back with him to his home. I was a little unsure of my feelings for him at first, but warmed up to it rather quickly, surprisingly so, and am now just looking forward to it.
I just want to read the next one now, and am hoping my local bookstore gets it in soon so that I can. I hope it's good.

Manga Review: La Corda d'Oro, Volume 15, by Yuki Kure

Rating (Out of 5): ~4 - 4.5
Publisher: VIZ Media (Shojo Beat)
Volumes: 17

Goodreads Synopsis:

Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T. 
Every few years, the prestigious Seisou Academy holds a prominent musical competition, and only the very best students at the Academy are allowed to participate. Though all are eligible to apply, only students from the music department actually make it to the competition...until now.
As Len leaves Japan to study abroad, Kahoko struggles with the changes in her own life. Can she find a way to say farewell to Len before it’s too late? Can she ace the upcoming music contest without Len’s tutoring—or the help of her magic violin? And what will she do when both Ryotaro and Azuma decide it’s time to make a move?

I really did miss this series. I believe I stated this in my previous review, but it's so true. I love all of the characters, and it's so nice to get to read about them again. They're all just so great, and different, and fun, and I'm glad that I got to read two volume so close together (and, um, upset that the next one isn't out till August, but oh well).
Quite a bit of the volumes lately seem to be taken up with other things, that don't have to do with the main story. And, while I enjoy these stories, I also kind of want the story to get moving, or to get to see it moving more in a volume.
The first chapter of this volume, for example, is a small special about Keiichi's sister, who came to visit, and pretends to be him in order to see the friends he told her about and fangirl over them. This was very cute, though. She's older than Keiichi, but looks almost like his twin, and is very different. She gets very excited and loves clothes, and makes all of his friends frilly outfits to wear. Also, I love that we're getting to see all these things about Keiichi, since he's usually so aloof and blank-faced and asleep. It's nice to see him interacting with others, and doing things that people wouldn't expect.
His sister also mentions to him that Kahoko's cute, which makes it seem like he's interested. I really hope he's not, because there are enough guys wanting her.
Aside from that, the volume starts with Kahoko and Len practicing, and him walking her home. They do a little shopping along the way, and I believe that Kahoko buys a going-away present for him. They play some more. And Len comes to realize his feelings for her. Which is huge and exciting, and yes! Love it.
In the next chapter, Kahoko helps Kazuki take some pictures for the newspaper/year book, while waiting for a music room to open up. Azuma joins them when he sees Kahoko's discomfort around him. He bothers her some more, and she realizes that he doesn't hate her, which perhaps bothers her even more. When she leaves, Kazuki and Azuma talk about her, and how Kazuki likes her but is afraid to confess. Kazuki doesn't believe that there will be any distance between them when he graduates, and Azuma tells him that they'll be going to the same school after graduation (which is exciting, since that means he's going to take up music, despite what his family wants).
At the end of that chapter, and the beginning of the next, Kahoko and Len talk and tease a bit, which is super cute and sweet. I love them. I think that they're really good together, that Kahoko pushes Len just the right amount, and makes him open up, which is nice. On the other hand, though, there's Ryotaro, who is also good with her. (There are other people, of course, that are possibilities, but I think those two are the ones that work best, or at least are the most likely to happen, no matter how much I love the other characters as well.) Nami (the newspaper girl) talks with Ryotaro, mentioning that Kahoko and Len have been getting close lately. (Maybe something with happen between those two? Maybe that could work, and would make me feel less bad?)
We become aware that there's only a week left, till Len leaves (I believe?), and Len and Ryotaro talk some more. I like their relationship. It's sweet, and fun, and while they both like Kahoko, they're not mean about it or anything, even if they do insult each other. They're got an odd friendship, and I like it. The chapter ends with Len promising to come to the competition that Kahoko is participating in.
It's becoming apparent that Kahoko is going to get hurt when Len leaves, and Ryotaro has a talk with him about it. It's also obvious that Len is going to miss her (which is so sweet!). But Len tells him that he's not going to tell her, whatever it is that he's has to tell her (maybe that he's leaving sooner than she thinks?) after the competition, so as not to mess it up for her.
The volume ends with them going in to the competition, which is so very mean. I want to know what happens! There are only two volumes left, and I want to find out what happens!
There's an extra chapter at the end about La Corda d'Oro 3, which is the new video game that was coming out in Japan at the time, I guess. We got to meet the characters in it, which was interesting. They were all rather different, and did catch my interest, but my attention was mostly on the main story, because I wanted more of it. And it made it sound like we would be seeing them again? As in, there might be more extras with them in it in the next volume? Or just as in, if you go and play the game? While they were interesting to me, and I was glad they were so different (even with the same general plot, of going to the same school and being surrounded by boys), I just want more of Kahoko and her crew. I want to know what happens! (But there's such a long wait!)
Sidenote: I noticed that Shoko isn't in with the characters descriptions. Because there isn't enough space, maybe? This bothers me. But there should be several other characters in there, like maybe the teachers and Nami. With the people that are mentioned, it makes it seem like the only important people are Kahoko and the boy falling for her. Which might be the case, but shouldn't be.